Can Modern Man Reconnect with His True Surroundings?

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on January 27, 2016 in Uncategorised

“The end may be defined as life in accordance with nature or, in other words, in accordance with our own human nature as well as that of the universe.” — Zeno of Citium

The weather has taken a turn here in Brazil…for the better!

Your roaming editor was due back in Buenos Aires yesterday, but thanks to a visa kerfuffle at the airport, he’s holed up here in sunny Rio de Janeiro for a few more days yet, alas.

(Sympathies and commiserations may be directed to us here at

Fortunately, our gracious Airbnb host was happy to welcome us back, proving again that positive peer-reviews are, indeed, a good thing. We simply rebooked while standing in line at the airport and, within a jiffy, had secured our temporary pad through the weekend. Easy as pie.

And so, aside from the more favorable weather, it’s like we never left.

Outside our office/living room window, the bronzed bods and bikini-clad girls from Ipanema parade along the famous esplanade. They are clearly, dangerously visible from our temporary workspace, sipping midday caipirinhas and coconut waters without a care in the world…

But we do not join them on the golden sands, Dear Reader. Instead, we turn to these letters…and in doing so spare the locals the sight of our own, comparatively pallid corpus.

Regular The Savvy Retiree Daily readers will recall our theme of late. Simply put, it’s about simple living. Not the kind of “simple” you’d use to describe a politician’s talking points, mind you. Simple as in basic…honest…true. Living, as the old stoics would have had it, in “accordance with nature”.

Much of Modern Man’s life is consumed by things he doesn’t really need. It’s become, as Will Rogers (and others since have) put it, all about spending money we haven’t earned to buy things we don’t want to impress people we don’t like.

Conspicuous consumption manifests itself in many ways. It may show up in the form of mountainous credit card debt…or in basements full of hoarded “stuff”…or oversized “McMansions” abounding in dead space.

All that is unnatural, in other words.

But it’s more than just oversized dwellings and outsized debt obligations at work here. Consider too the loss of connection with one’s true surroundings.

Take even the very basic necessities of life…

How far removed are you from your own food source?

When was the last time, for instance, that you picked a piece of fruit from a tree and drew it to your mouth? Or the last time you gathered fresh eggs from the coop to throw in with your Sunday omelet?

A colleague remarked recently how, when a celebrity chef showed an assortment of staple fruits and vegetables to children in British schools, many of them had no idea what they were looking at. Some had never before seen a “real” potato or a “proper” onion. They were, sadly, only acquainted with their rather lifeless, pre-packaged, frozen cousins.

One is left to wonder if Modern Man, burdened by the trappings of his Modern Life—airfreighted strawberries, “chicken” nuggets, electric salad spinners and the like—hasn’t lost connection with his natural surroundings in a more meaningful way.

It would stand to reason…

After all, his financial life is largely a fantasy. Household debt in the U.S.A. stands at around $12 trillion dollars in 2016…or about 70% of the nation’s annual GDP.

Much of what Modern Man “owns,” in other words, is really just “on loan.”

His intellectual life, too, is caught up with the farce and vanity of public “education.” He has more letters after his name than ever before…but fewer marketable skills. Labor force participation rates tell us fewer Americans are working—as a percentage of the population—than in at any time since the disco grooves of the mid-’70s.

Is it such a wonder, then, that his natural life—that is, his connection with the land around him—would become strained too?

According to research from the American Farm Bureau, farm and ranch families comprise just 2 percent of the U.S. population…an historical low.

Of course, for every action, there is a reaction…for every trend, a counter trend.

We’ve seen already how an excess of consumption is, in some fringy hearts and minds, causing a reaction toward thrift…downsizing…living within one’s means.

We’ve seen, too, how the folly of mass, so-called “education” is inspiring new and exciting ways of learning.

The next question asks itself: If a change is possible with regard to his means…and to his mind…might a trend reversal also be possible for Modern Man’s mode of living?

And, following on, might the outcome even be preferable?

Let’s say you’ve resolved to eat better, to feel healthier from the inside out. You’ve already got your finances in order. You’ve got your mind in shape—starting, perhaps, with the classics. Now, you decide it’s time to get back in touch with the land.

How might you go about this, from a practical perspective?

You could build a chicken coop in the backyard. You could move to an “agrihood.” You could join a food co-op…or pick your own. You could can and jar and preserve.

Would that get you closer to the land…back in tune with your natural surroundings?

We’ll take a look at these ideas, and more, in future issues. But for now, we’d like to hear what YOU have to say on the subject.

In what ways has Modern Man lost touch with his surroundings? More importantly, how might we go about reconnecting with what’s real…honest…natural?

Send your ideas, anecdotes, and back-to-nature tales to us here at:

Maybe you have a concept or design for a basic vegie patch…or something a little more high-tech (like those cool hanging wall gardens)…or something else entirely.

Write to us at the address above and we’ll publish a selection of your responses in upcoming editions of Truth & Plenty.

Meanwhile, we’re pretty sure the coconut water available across the Ipanema esplanade is locally sourced.

Better just go and make sure…

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Tool Shed

Not all of us are lucky enough to be inconvenienced with a few days sipping cocktails on the Copacabana, but there’s nothing stopping us from mixing up a little bit of Rio at home. Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha, is refreshing, simple to make, and packs a punch.


½ lime, quartered
1 ½ tsp white sugar
2 ½ fluid ounces of cachaça
Ice cubes

Directions: In an old-fashioned glass (or any other kind of glass), squeeze the limes and drop them in. Add the sugar, and crush with the end of a wooden spoon. Add the cachaça and plenty of ice.

For the full caipirinha experience, enjoy while watching bikini-clad, bronzed bods walk past your window.—Ed